(Prag 1870- Berlin 1932)
Painter, Printmaker, Professor
Father of Modern Printmakers
Trying to understand how, in a relative short period, woodblock printmakers like Hélène Maß and so many of her contemporaries from northern Germany achieved such high originality and quality I’ve been journeying around the 1890-1920 period. Meeting the printmakers, painters, the professors, teachers, the visiting artist, exhibitions, critics, publications, organisations etc.
The pivotal figure in Modern Printmaking in Germany is Emil Orlik. Once he was appointed professor, aged 34, in the Royal Art School of the Arts and Crafts Museum in Berlin in 1904 I guess most later known printmaking artists, German and visitors from abroad, will have been under his guidance and influence.
Market: William Nicholson (l.) and Emil Orlik (r.)
In 1902 Orlik returned from Japan. Before he’d visited William Nicholson in London, Felix Valloton in Paris, Max Liebermann in Munich and August Lepère in Paris was still alive, all pioneers of Modern printmaking. Thus Orlik became the funnel between the “before and after” printmakers on the hinge of the 19th and 20th century.
In Berlin Orlik succeeded Otto Eckmann (r.) who’d died in 1902. Before, both men were active in Vienna and München. In the south of Germany a first group of German modern printmakers was inspired: Norbertine Bresslern Roth, Carl Thiemann, Carl Moll, Walter Klemm, Martha Cunz, Karl Johne, Ludwig Jungnickel. These artists often originated from neighbouring countries, Hungary, Suisse, Austria.
Orlik held his position in Berlin until the end of his life in 1932. Would I like to see the 1900-20 school records and archives to see who was there and when, but I fear these might not have survived the 1930's disapproval and rejection and later the rage and fires that destroyed majestic old Berlin in 1945.
So many talented women, Else Schmiedeberg-Blume, Elisabeth von Oertzen, Eva-Maria Marcus, Hélène Maß, Joahnna Metzner, Elisabeth Consentius, Margarethe Gerhardt, Hélène Prausnitz-Sagert, Erna Halleur, Ilse Koch, Käthe Hoch, Dagmar Hooge, Lina Ammer, Lisbet Schulz, Eva Roemer, Wally Peretz-Brutzkus, Hélène Isenbart, Meta Cohn-Hendel, Christa Lettow. Relatively few men: among them Carl Alexander Brendel, Daniël Staschus and Heine Rath.
Most of these women were from well to do families, well trained accomplished painters following courses, classes and lessons in the abundance of first class academies, schools and studios. Some even had been to Paris. A mixed company of generations, married woman and teenagers. In some cases the influence of the painter-teacher on the later printmaking careers is obvious and I think crucial to the quality, diversity and success this "new" method of creating affordable and accountable art in original and individual copies.
Sometimes these Master-Mate connections are known and delivered to us: Else Schmiedeberg~Lovis Corinth, Hélène Maß~Walter Leistikow and Johannes Iten, Carl Alxander Brendel~Paul Frederik Meyerheim and father Albert), Eva Maria Marcus~Corinth and Orlik. In others I hope one day more details, bits and pieces of their lives and careers will turn up. This medium is one way of trying. Feel free to comment and send suggestions, additions and corrections.
Orliks' coming to Berlin, with his drive, his talent and his printmaking know-how was not a seed that fell in a growing pot, but the Messiah of Modern printmaking sowing with generous hands in what must have been the most fertile fields of artistic and aesthetic talent on the planet in the first decades of the 20-th century.
Emil Orlik portraits by his Munich friend Bernard Pankok (1872-1943)
To be continued, there's more to come.
The overlap in posting with other printmaking blogs is purely coincidental, possibly due to the present interest and Emil Orlik exhibitions in Germany.
All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly and educational use only.